Review: Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese

Indian HorseIndian Horse by Richard Wagamese
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A CBC Canada Reads book, top 100 Globe and Mail listed, critically acclaimed, much discussed, Richard Wagamese’s novel Indian Horse is deserving not only of accolades but your time. This is simply an excellent, fundamentally Canadian novel, beautifully and sparingly written, with grace, poise, banked passion and heartbreaking insight.

Although a work of fiction, Wagamese draws from the lives of people he has known and lost, and because of that resonates with much earlier works by other great authors who wrote about similar struggles: John Howard Griffin’s seminal work, Black Like Me, and even the now classic novel by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Wagamese tells the story of Saul Indian Horse, from happy Ojibway boy in Canada’s bush, to bitter urban man who is flotsam in the wreckage created by white oppression, residential school brutality and hypocritical Canadian society. But this is also a story of discovery, of hope, of healing. And should be required reading for every individual in this nation.

Much of Saul’s insight and struggle revolves around the boon and bane of hockey, which in essence becomes a metaphor for his life. His triumphs on the ice are the triumphs of his soul. His defeats and destruction at the hands of players and fans is his defeat in residential school, the logging camps and mines. The epiphany and vision he finds in hockey, is the epiphany and vision he finds for his own life. One universe coexists in tandem with the other. And all of this told in a highly readable and compelling manner.

If you haven’t already read Indian Horse I urge you to go out right now and purchase a copy.

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